By Gary Craig • Staff writer • Democrat And Chronicle
Source: Democrat And Chronicle.com
If immigration authorities want to rely on testimony from Liberians who claim that Clarkson resident George Boley Sr. committed atrocities during the west African country’s civil war, those allegations will have to be made live in a Batavia courtroom.
Immigration officials had hoped to rely on videoconference testimony from more than 30 individuals in Liberia, some who allege that Boley was responsible for dozens of deaths. But on Wednesday, immigration Judge John Reid grew tired of frequent problems with the video testimony, including unreliable images and difficulties with each side understanding each other.
Reid decided to disallow all testimony from Liberia , including some presented Tuesday, according to Boley’s attorney, Buffalo-based lawyer Matthew Kolken.
The government can bring the witnesses to the U.S., Kolken said.
Boley, now 60, has lived with his family in Clarkson for decades, but he traveled to and from his homeland of Liberia and became a political leader there during the civil war.
Kolken unsuccessfully objected to the use of video testimony before the trial, maintaining that technical difficulties would slow the proceedings.
Without direct testimony from the Liberians, immigration officials are largely left with secondhand testimony from immigration agents who interviewed them.
Immigration authorities have also alleged that Boley used illegitimate documents to travel to and from Liberia. He and his attorneys have denied those charges, as well as the allegations of human rights violations.
Kolken said he is fearful that the government will use the judge’s decision to simply delay the trial even more. Boley is now detained at the federal immigration detention facility in Batavia, where he is on trial.
Already, the trial was expected to break after this week and resume in January.
Immigration officials did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.